Hybrid IT is an IT strategy which combines both on-premise and cloud-based services. The cloud-based services can be public or private or a mixture of both, which is often called ‘hybrid cloud’.
Hybrid IT is an increasingly popular approach for businesses. World-leading research company, Gartner, has predicted that by 2020, 90% of organisations will adopt hybrid IT infrastructure management, and that spending on cloud will be on par with spending on traditional IT. This shows a rise in popularity since 2016, when another Gartner survey found that, of 300 data centre outsourcing (DCO) customers asked, 20% used a hybrid infrastructure and a further 20% planned to use hybrid services in the next 12 months.
As cloud computing has evolved over time to include public and private cloud environments, the definition of hybrid IT has also grown. Today, businesses can employ a hybrid approach to IT which includes hybrid cloud services.
Part of the popularity of hybrid IT, is that is offers companies the best of both worlds; they can enjoy the benefits of cloud computing while keeping in-house control over other aspects of their IT.
In general, hybrid IT relies on four delivery models:
• Internal data centre
• External hosting
• Public cloud
• Private cloud
What are the benefits of hybrid IT?
When asked, businesses generally give the following as benefits of hybrid IT:
• Better business agility
• Better customer service
• Improved product development
Hybrid IT also allows organisations to:
• Align hybrid IT solutions with specific business needs
• Deliver new applications sooner
• Make use of multiple cloud options
What are the challenges of hybrid IT?
Having an IT infrastructure that is not standardised across an organisation but instead makes use of different delivery models inevitably presents some challenges.
The IT landscape is constantly changing and software dates quickly. In contrast to cloud solutions, older on-premise solutions can be slow to evolve (and also, difficult to scale). And while the combination of on-premise and cloud-hosted solutions can be very beneficial, it also creates a disjointed approach which can lead to delays, service disruption and disconnected business processes.
Also, because data can live in a number of places with hybrid IT, either on-premise or in the cloud, it can be difficult to keep track of what lies where and to keep everything secure. Outsourcing that would have required just one data centre in the past now involves multiple locations, partners and hybrid cloud.
Why do some businesses avoid hybrid IT?
Some organisations are reluctant to migrate even parts of their IT to the cloud because they think it will cause disruption and downtime. Many organisations have also invested significant amounts in their on-premise IT and don’t want to abandon this overnight in favour of cloud solutions. In these instances, companies might choose to use their existing on-premise solutions until they reach end of life and then replace them with cloud solutions.
How can hybrid IT be made to work?
For hybrid IT to be successful, businesses need to manage their infrastructure carefully and take a flexible approach that reflects the duality of the infrastructure itself.
It makes sense for businesses to adopt new IT service delivery models – i.e., the cloud – where doing so will provide a better service than traditional on-premise solutions. But they should also recognise that some core applications may be better off provided on-premise.
Planning ahead for those applications that will be migrated to the cloud, and implementing change management processes for the migration can help reduce any disruption to the business. Some organisations might choose to use existing on-premise solutions alongside cloud-hosted solutions until their end of life, at which point they can be replaced with cloud-based solutions if the company so wishes.
What is the future of hybrid IT?
Going forward, it will become clearer how hybrid IT can best serve organisations who take this approach. Speed, security and affordability are likely to be driving factors in both the adoption and success of hybrid IT.
If you are interested in how a hybrid approach to IT can work for your business, have a chat with Core today.